News / Opinion

Focus group on climate-sensitive urban design in Nagpur, India

PhD candidate Renuka Bhoge recently organized a focus group on climate sensitive urban design in her hometown of Nagpur, India. This is her travelogue:

My research topic is “Climate Sensitive Urban Design: A comparison between Brisbane (Australia) and Nagpur (India)”

I went to India in Christmas holidays of 2017-18. I was in Nagpur for 5 weeks. The main target was to conduct Focus Group Discussion and also personal interviews where participants clearly indicated that they can’t be present at the FGD.

The participants included urban designers, urban planners, conservation architects and landscape planners from academia, private and public offices.

The city of Nagpur seriously lacks public transport so most of the time my favoured mode of transport was ola or uber cab services.

One advantage I certainly had in Nagpur that I was born, brought up and educated there, so I have a tight knit web of social and professional connections which I could explore and exploit for my research.

One observation which I would definitely like to share that when I was young Nagpur was a small town and it had a beauty of small town attached to it, but at this moment Nagpur is one of the 100 smart cities that is being built as a part of Prime Minister’s ambitious program of smart cities. When I was small, I could pretty much walk or cycle anywhere I wanted to go, well not anymore because Nagpur is a big, growing and expanding city now.

Many of the professionals whom I interviewed agree that Nagpur is no more a quaint and dainty town as it used to be, rather at the moment it is in an awkward phase of rapid growth and thus chaos and disorderliness prevails. Nagpur is a city dominated by two-wheelers. Every house-hold has number of two-wheelers equivalent to the number of occupants in a house.

Thus, one can imagine the amount of vehicles that ply on the roads, plus add to it some chaos generated by the ongoing cementing of the roads and also add diversions due to the ongoing metro project. At this moment Nagpur is chaos personified, but people are very hopeful that the metro project will add some order to the traffic on the roads of Nagpur, it will help decongest the roads and also will help reduce the automobile emissions that cause air pollution.

I enjoyed my research in Nagpur. I interviewed a variety of people with wide range of experiences. It is very interesting to note that the vision of the professionals changes as per the education specialization and experience.

Most interesting aspect was the Focus Group Discussion. It is a learning experience in itself. Yes, there are some logistics problems that arise when arranging and conducting these, but it is very interesting to see different professionals from different backgrounds come together and discuss questions. These professionals may or may not always agree with each other and that gives a diverse and at times conflicting points of view, but all these views are very important to understand a problem from all the angles.

All the data collection and research work at India has already been carried out. Data analysis is the next big step. I am reading some texts on “how to analyse FGD’s”.

Data collection and research work at Brisbane is in progress.

Next milestone is approaching fast.

I hope to reach there one day, one step at a time.